Today, I visited Chateau Chambord. The initial construction of the chateau was started by Francis I. Although the castle (with most rooms of any Loire Valley castles) features 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases, it served as the king’s hunting lodge while not the seat of the government.
Inside the chateau, there several double helix staircase, allowing separation between ascension and descension, which could have been influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in France during his old age.
Today, I visited Mont Saint Michel. According to history, it was founded by St. Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, in 708 A.D. Over the next 1,000 year, more and more constructions took place. The abbey is located on an island, off the coastal marshland. Even 22 Kilometers away, I was able to see this abbey.
The dedications of the monks, considering they had moved very heavy granites across the marsh to this island for constructing the abbey, is quite amazing. The interior of the cathedral is quite empty. There is no impressive stained glass windows.
The Mont St. Michel was heavily fortified, even withstood a 30 years siege during the hundred years war between England and France. It is a symbol of France nationalism.
While we were there, there were buses loads of Japanese visitors, perhaps out-numbering all French people on the island by 2 to 1. But, none of them spoke French!!!!
Today, I visited Nice’s Russian Orthodox church. During the late 19th century, there was a large Russian community, living and enjoying the sunshine of the French Riviera. Because the Russian Orthodox religion has a different set of traditions from theRoman-Catholics of France, Czar Nicholas II commissioned a church to be build in Nice. This is evidenced by the emblem of a double-headed eagle on the top of the onion domes. In fact, it was 1st Russian cathedral consecrated outside of Russian before 1917.
Additionally, I visited the Hotel Negresco, which has a huge chandelier with 16,000 pieces of crystal. According to the history book, this chandelier was ordered by the Russian czar. But, due to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the delivery could not be made.
Next to the hotel, is the Musee Massena. This public museum contains a good collection art works related to Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Yesterday, I visited Monaco, Menton, and Eze village.
Monaco is the world-renown city for high-style living, gambling, and Formula 1 racing. The history of Monaco is quite unique. Currently, it is ruled by Price Albert. But, it is under the French jurisdiction. The palace is located in the Monaco. The cliff behind the palace offers a fantastic view of the sea.
Across the harbor, it is Monte Carlo, where the casino is located by. The super-rich atmosphere is evidenced by full of luxury autos parked in front of the Casino – Mercedes, BMW, Bentley, Rolls Royce, … However, gambling only accounts for 5% of the revenue collected by the principality of Monaco. The rest come from real-estate, F1, entertainment, etc.
With extra time on hand, I also visited Eze village, which is located on the top of a mountain and offering a great view of sea to both France and Italy. There are several famous perfumeries there, e.g. Fragonard, Galimard, Molinard, …
After a long day of traveling, I decided to enjoy a nice dinner at Menton, a vibrant village by the sea near the Italian border. The Resturant Le Martina offers really good service and good food. Their address is:
11, Place du Cap
Telephone: 04.93 57 80 22
Last night was the school’s reception, where we tasted the wines from the Nice region. We tried the wines from Beaujolais and Beaujolais Village. The wine from the Nice region is much fruitier than the wines from the Bordeaux, which have a much stronger taste.
Today I had lunch at the Garibaldi Square, where I enjoyed some Italian cuisine.